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ICAC finds former Sydney University ICT manager corrupt

Wednesday 11 May 2016

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has found that Jason Meeth, a former information and communications technology (ICT) manager at the University of Sydney, engaged in serious corrupt conduct by improperly exercising his functions as a university official by giving preferential treatment to Canberra Solutions Pty Ltd in selecting that company’s candidates to work at the university as ICT contractors.

In its report, Investigation into the conduct of a University of Sydney ICT manager, released today, the Commission finds that, between February 2012 and July 2013, Mr Meeth arranged for nine Canberra Solutions ICT contractors to be engaged by the university. In each case, Mr Meeth arranged for the Canberra Solutions contractors to be nominated through an accredited ICT contracts supplier.

Once appointed, the performance of the Canberra Solutions contractors was in some cases unsatisfactory, with some having their services terminated prematurely, or their contracts not renewed, due to their poor work performance.

The Commission is satisfied that Mr Meeth knew was he required to comply with the then “C100 scheme”. The C100 scheme was a statewide procurement scheme designed to deliver greater buying power and better value for government agencies, reduce total costs and provide greater access to the best labour contractors in the market. There was a requirement at the university that all ICT contractors should be sourced through C100 companies.

Canberra Solutions was not a C100 company. However, it benefitted financially from the arrangement with Mr Meeth, who would demonstrate his favouritism in a number of ways, including putting Canberra Solutions in contact with C100 companies so that it would appear that Canberra Solutions candidates were directly contracted from C100 companies. He controlled the recruitment of ICT contractors at the university and took steps to disguise the university’s use of Canberra Solutions on official university documentation because he knew that it was contrary to university policy.

This all resulted in Canberra Solutions receiving $1.6 million from the university, of which it kept approximately $800,000 profit, compared with the standard contractual arrangement where the recruitment company received about 10% of the fee paid by the university with the balance going to the contractor. Canberra Solutions was managed by Balu Moothedath and his wife.

As part of the investigation, the Commission examined whether or not Mr Meeth had received any rewards for favouring Canberra Solutions. The Commission found that while aspects of the evidence it examined may suggest that Mr Meeth received cash payments from Mr Moothedath, there is no direct evidence that Mr Moothedath did pay Mr Meeth. Having carefully considered the available evidence, the Commission accepts that the fact and scale of any financial benefit flowing to Mr Meeth from Mr Moothedath cannot be established to the requisite standard.

The ICAC is of the opinion that consideration should be given to obtaining the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions with respect to the prosecution of Mr Moothedath for offences of giving false or misleading evidence to the Commission and attempting to procure false evidence.

The report notes that since the occurrence of the conduct relevant to this investigation, a new whole-of-government labour hire process has been adopted, which forbids subcontracting arrangements, and the university has taken action to more tightly control its labour hire processes. In the circumstances, the Commission does not consider it necessary to make any recommendations concerning those matters.

Media contact: ICAC Manager Communications & Media Nicole Thomas 02 8281 5799 / 0417 467 801

Investigation report   Fact sheet